News / Europe

Ethiopia Denies 'Hijacker' Co-pilot Faced Persecution

Swiss authorities detained the hijacker of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that was forced to land at Geneva's international airport, Feb. 17, 2014.
Swiss authorities detained the hijacker of an Ethiopian Airlines flight that was forced to land at Geneva's international airport, Feb. 17, 2014.
Marthe van der Wolf
The Ethiopian government says the co-pilot who commandeered an Ethiopian Airlines plane on Sunday was not facing persecution in his home country. 

The 31-year-old suspect, Hailemedhin Abera Tegegn, requested asylum after taking the plane to Geneva, Switzerland. Hailemedhin is now in Swiss custody.
 
Ethiopian government spokesman Redwan Hussein says the co-pilot's actions do not make sense, as he had no criminal record in Ethiopia.

“As it is an Ethiopian Airlines pilot, he has several opportunities to apply for any airlines, withhold his dignity, and also he has a host of visas, including the Shengen-state visas.  So he does not have to hijack his own plane and [get] himself into hot water," Redwan said.

The co-pilot, who had no medical record, had been working for Ethiopian Airlines for five years.  
 
​When the other pilot went to use the restroom on Sunday's flight, he locked the door and hijacked the plane.
 
If tried and convicted, the co-pilot could face up to 20 years prison in Switzerland.
 
Redwan says there is no bilateral extradition treaty between Ethiopia and Switzerland.

“Because this criminal act is a threat posed for all international community and for all countries, the Ethiopian government would actually mull it over as to how to go about it and we will let you know which action that we are going to take," he said.

The plane carried 193 passengers.  None of them were hurt and no violence was used during the hijacking.
 
Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s fastest growing airline and made a profit of $143 million in its last fiscal year.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: kiya from: ethiopia
February 23, 2014 9:03 AM
I am sorry that the comments of some people .let s say the action that is taken by hailemrdins is very stupid and possibly dangerous .and he has seriously mentaly ill .why did they hire him in ethiopian airline? If you have evidence that will help to support your idea that shows hailemedin was certified by doctor as insane, we will accept the comment .otherwise it is difficult to belive

In Response

by: observer from: United States
February 24, 2014 1:01 PM
@bk.
You are doing a disservice to the Pilot. In fact, it is good for the pilot if it is indeed a mental issue - that will spare him from the 20 years he is facing - and everyone will be sympathetic to him - including even the Ethiopian Government and the passengers whose lives he risked! Mental issues are difficult to spot - especially in Ethiopia where the health infrastructure is too poor to spot and treat such complex mental issues. According to the interviews from his families, he had shown signs of schizophrenia recently. I do not think anyone was aware of it!

In a country where people with mental issues are stigmatized and considered a taboo, no one wants to admit such issues and go for treatment. This incident is a good wake up call for the airline industry at large - a major loophole in aviation safety. That routine and timely psychological examination of pilots is essential!

If the Ethiopian government was indeed suspicious of the Pilot for politically activity, they would never have given him a responsibility this big! Besides, he could easily have left the country long time ago - as he is traveling the world! So the argument that he did it for political opposition doesn't hold water! Anyway, people who try to associate this terrible incident to politics are wayyyy too stupid - genuine idiots!!! These people are in fact discrediting the Ethiopian opposition that has legitimate grievances!!!


by: bk from: us
February 22, 2014 9:05 AM
If every body c lean the waste from his premises the city will also clean ! Haile medin did effectively his task.


by: observer from: United States
February 21, 2014 11:02 AM
Only insanity can explain his actions!!! Then we can forgive him, perhaps! People who try to relate this to politics are genuine idiots!!! Just imagine yourself as if you are a passenger in the plane ~ the political problems of the pilot is not your problem ~ he can ask for asylum where ever he wants! The bottom-line is ~ If you can't trust the pilot in a plane, if you cant trust the surgeon in an operational theater, then whom??? If you cant trust the cab driver when you take a taxi, or a the bus driver in a bus, then whom??? He did a huge damage to the airline!!! Politics is irrelevant ~ the guy needs treatment!!!


by: bk from: us
February 20, 2014 10:42 PM
Prison is the best place of geniune person in a country where there is no good governance!!! Like hsilemedin abera we ethiopian have to give a valuable moral support for him. He is a hero


by: TW voa from: dallas
February 20, 2014 10:21 AM
This was the best opportunity for the ethiopan government critics to critisize what they believe was right and all of them contradicted the hijacking with political operation in Ethiopia. After all his families made clear that the hijacker was not influenced by any political danger toward him. Now could VOA report what was The real motive for the hijacking. I suppose to wait another report for the real motive for hijacking from all news outlets including BBC, CNN, Reuters and others


by: Alem
February 19, 2014 9:22 AM
First, What no one is talking about is the fact that the Captain is Italian. Ethiopian rulers seem to favor paying foreigners several fold [in dollars] over equally qualified nationals [as teachers, etc]. This has been a source of resentment to a point that many experienced technicians and pilots have left the country to work in the Middle East. You would think Emperor Haileselassie who with TWA started the national carrier 65 years ago had made sure Ethiopians are in charge of running the company and universities, etc. I would suggest you use this occasion to investigate who are in key positions at EAL, the number of pilots [co-pilots] and trainees and their ethnic affiliation.

Second, Ethiopian rulers and their supporters are working feverishly to put a spin on the story [such as that co-pilot Hailemedhin threatened to crash the plane, etc]. Listen to spokesperson Redwan making a fool of himself sending out contradictory statements. Could it be that Hailemedhin was upset with the way the Italian pilot was treating him? Or that an Italian his boss simply because current rulers don't trust nationals [unless from their ethnic village] and are bent on quashing Ethiopian pride? Something to seriously consider.


by: bk from: us
February 19, 2014 5:03 AM
This is a womderful decision l admire him b/s he has played on his own role or responsibility


by: Sophia Adem from: TX
February 17, 2014 5:42 PM
We should never support this kind of behaviors he put a lot of peoples life at jeopardy. What a waste...

In Response

by: BB
February 18, 2014 2:57 PM
Agree, he should have used other methods in his intention is to protest the current state of affairs in Ethiopia.


by: Mimi from: UK
February 17, 2014 1:25 PM
Brainwashed by opposition Diaspora garbage, he thought he would get political asylum and Swiss welfare $$$ for creating drama.

He’ll get prison, then deportation!


by: plt2 from: UK
February 17, 2014 12:24 PM
>>If tried and convicted, the co-pilot could face up to 20 years prison in Switzerland>>

Why Switzerland??? Why should Swiss taxpayers have to support his incarceration? Sending him straight back to Addis Ababa.

In Response

by: Fight Back from: dc
February 17, 2014 2:06 PM
The action of the pilot must be encouraged by all ethiopias and support him with all means . because he is trying to proof the injustice of the TPLF/ Ethiopia Authority for the last 22 years. I therefore ask all TPLF opposition organizations to support any humility against ethiopian authoritarian regime

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid